In response to the outbreak of the coronavirus and the university’s shift to remote learning, various campus organizations, from philanthropies to university offices, have utilized the internet to keep students involved remotely.
Student Government is continuing its regular operations by holding meetings over Zoom. Speaker of the Student Senate JD Jacobus said the newly elected student body officers are continuing to communicate with students and organizations.
“I think generally what we try to do in Student [Government] is we are trying to do things as we would do them if we were still on campus, just through an online platform,” Jacobus, a third-year political science and history student, said.
The student senate committees are also communicating through Zoom meetings. Jacobus said the committees have remained productive during these changes, introducing eight pieces of legislation to the senate on April 8.
USC Dance Marathon has taken advantage of social media to keep its participants involved, according to Melanie Carter, Dance Marathon’s vice president of campus relations.
“Since college students are constantly on their phone this quarantine, posting things to our Instagram page is a great way to stay connected to the students on campus without being on campus,” Carter, a third-year risk management and insurance student, said in an email interview.
Student Government has also found social media to be its best asset in retaining communication with students.
“We’ve been trying to be very engaged on social media, both on our own Instagrams, our own Twitters, but also on the Student [Government] Instagram, Student [Government] Twitter, Student [Government] Facebook and making sure that we’re still pushing things out to students and reaching out to students,” Jacobus said.
Carter said Dance Marathon is holding its executive meetings and interviews for the 2020-2021 staff over Zoom. The organization is also using sites like Google Drive to work on collaborative projects.
“We have honestly made the best of it though and we have really bonded virtually which is exciting,” Carter said.
One way they have stayed connected to students remotely was through a “DM Dance Party” held April 10 to celebrate the opening day of registration for the 2021 Dance Marathon. Instead of their usual festivities on Greene Street, the event was held over Instagram live.
“This is a fun way to get the campus involved while we are all apart and to let off some of this quarantine stress with a dance party,” Carter said.
Molly Weeks, a third-year risk management and finance student, participated in the virtual dance party. The two-time Dance Marathon participant believes it was a great way for students to have fun while they are separated.
“At home sometimes it can be hard to separate school time from breaks and being social, so I set up the Dance Party and took a break from everything other than connecting with some DM friends I hadn’t talked to in a while,” Weeks said in an email interview.
Student organizations are not the only campus groups working to stay connected with students. The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) is continuing to hold its regular programming remotely.
“We try to maintain our community engagement throughout this time by maintaining our programs through social media,” Shay Malone, director of multicultural student affairs, said in an email interview.
Hip Hop Wednesday, a weekly event usually held on Greene Street, was held via Instagram live on April 1, hosting 800 participants.
Second-year marketing student Aidan Baker enjoyed participating in one of his favorite USC traditions remotely.
"Students who were a part of greek organizations were able to join the live and stroll to certain songs, other students would join in the live and do TikTok dances or just freestyle," Baker said in an email interview. "There was such a great energy around the whole thing and though it was virtual you could really still feel it."
The next Hip Hop Wednesday will be held April 22.
The OMSA is also holding a virtual Pridechella to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride on campus on April 24 on Instagram. Many of its other events, such as Q’afe, Diversity Dialogue and office hours, will be held via Zoom for the remainder of April.
“Some of the most engaging and memorable moments a student can have happens outside of the classroom. They build community, relieve stress and help students develop skills and engage in learning beyond their classes," Malone said. "By continuing these programs virtually, we are not letting COVID-19 stop us from helping students find programs that interest them and they still want to take part."